Who comes out best in the evolution of solar energy: photovoltaics or concentrated solar power?
A growing number of number solar experts contend that today’s photovoltaic panels are being manufactured at price points so low the net result effectively eliminates competition from Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems.
According to CSP Today, with an average generation cost of .15€/KWh in Europe, the energy payback time for the most leading technologies is placed at six months. But this calculation is set to drop further with expected generation costs going down to 0.07 €/kWh in almost all of Europe by 2020.
To put this in perspective, writes CSP Today, “The prices of solar panels are falling so fast that by 2013 they will cost half of what they cost in 2009.”
Where does this leave CSP on the competitive landscape?
For those following or invested in CSP, this all sounds like good reason to attend the 5th International Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Summit held November 28 to 30 in Sevilla, Spain, writes global events director Maria Slough Rocha.
CSP started in Spain but it is evolving into an international market for renewable solar energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that by 2050 CSP could provide 11.3 percent of global electricity. The next two years are critical if market volume is to reach €23 billion in 2020 as predicted, and if the 89 planned plants in 16 countries achieve their multi-GW capacity.
Not only has CSP been affected by the drop in prices, so have many leading manufacturers of PV panels, including California-based Solyndra, which ceased operations last week, laying off 1,100 employees and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
But as prices fall, the competitive playing field continues to grow. The world renewables market is predicted to increase to €270 billion by 2020 from €8.7 billion today. It is predicted that solar PV will garner 36 percent share of this expanding market, with CSP anticipated to claim some 8 percent of this market.
Although Spain and the USA presently represent 90 percent of the total CSP market, Algeria, Australia, Egypt, France, Italy, India, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa are either constructing or planning CSP plants.
Attendees at this CSP summit should find themselves having plenty of interesting news to discuss.